It's that time of year again when we get to recognize and celebrate teachers who have achieved their National Board Certification (NBC). Congratulations to you and the more than 4,000 other teachers nationwide who achieved their National Board Certification this year. What an honor it is to be your colleague. I love this time of year because it reminds me of the energy and inspiration I felt when I became a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). It reminds me we are surrounded by thoughtful, dedicated teachers who care about their students and their profession. It reminds me the more teachers who achieve their National Board certification, the stronger our voice will become to lead our profession by lending our insight, experience, and perspective to the policies shaping education today. So, now what?
Now, you begin a new journey. You keep growing and learning about your teaching practice and student learning. Looking back, I realize I only started to truly understand teaching and learning after I achieved my National Board certification. My teacher preparation course was a step in the right direction in getting me licensed to teach. Once hired, my time in the classroom provided me rich experiences to cultivate my teaching practice and develop the right habits of mind. But, going through the National Board certification process made me understand teaching and learning in a way nothing else had. Knowing isn’t enough, I realized. I knew best practices and I knew my content, but knowing and understanding are two different things. Like anything else, it’s the understanding of something that empowers us to improve it, and I began to understand the significance of teaching for learning.
As you continue along your journey as an NBCT, I hope you’ll consider how you will share your new understandings gained from going through the National Board certification process to help others understand more, too. There are a number of ways to do this, from recruiting a colleague to pursue their NBC, to holding informational meetings with your faculty, principal, or district administration to help them understand why this process is so significant to student achievement and teacher practice. Additionally, one of the most rewarding experiences you can have following your certification is to help other National Board Candidates through their certification process by becoming a trained Candidate Support Provider (CSP). As a CSP, your understandings will continue to evolve and deepen in many ways. Other ways to share your insights include blogging or using other social media to articulate the impact
of National Board certification on teaching and learning, and check out The
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) website for more ways to network and get your voice heard. Finally, please join and stay connected with your local National Board affiliate. If you don’t have one in your area, think about starting one. Whatever you do, stay involved and keep
the conversation going. It’s important not only for our profession, but for the students we serve.
Dessie Olson, NBCT 2006